Cutting the feet according to the shoe?

HYDERABAD June 26. "It's like cutting the feet according to the shoe when it should have been cutting the shoe according to the feet."

This observation of a senior People's War (PW) leader from West Bengal, who quit the revolutionary movement last year, perhaps aptly sums up the current stage of the naxalite movement in Andhra Pradesh.

The current tide of violence unleashed by the PW cadres in the State in the name of vigorously enforcing the Tactical Counter Offensive Campaign (TCOC) seems to be leading the revolutionary movement into a cul de sac, providing a definite advantage for the Government to mobilise people against the People's War politics.

The growing incidence of people resisting PW squads and preventing them from killing targets or damaging public property emphatically points to the incompatibility of the strategies and tactics of the ultra-left party to the field situation. There were 14 such `revolts' this year in Adilabad, Karimngar, Nalgonda, Kurnool, Warangal, Nizamabad, Mahabubnagar, Guntur and Anantapur districts.

Why such resistance from people to a movement led by a party ironically christened People's War ? One of the basic reasons appears to be the PW's emphasis on squad action while losing focus on involving people in `partial struggles'. This particular phase began after the party suffered a series of setbacks ever since three Central Committee members were shot dead in an `encounter' in 1999.

Though the revolutionary ideology laid emphasis on being offensive, hitherto it had been more a strategic move coupled with an equal stress on mobilising people on various local issues or on problems specific to a particular segment of society. With the `partial struggles' being successfully organised by PW front organisations, there was a muted `social sanction' for the violent acts too. But now this backing of people to the PW movement is minimised to a large extent for a variety of reasons.

Worried over the reversal of situation in North Telangana districts, which the PW had always showcased as a role model for revolution, the revolutionary ideologues effected some drastic changes in the strategies and tactics to be adopted. Their understanding was that the revolutionary movement was in an `ebb' stage and only intensified squad action would create a `space' for furthering the revolutionary cause in the face of severe repression by the State.

The observation of Manik quoting an NT leader (in his 10-page resignation letter) is interesting -- `both economism and terrorism had become predominant in NT movement'. "...Singareni workers could not be mobilised in support of peasant struggles of NT and the peasants could not be mobilised in support of the workers. Then how far these movements have become class struggle in true sense ''

Manik further analyses that struggles by peasants and workers can become class struggles in true sense only when all the sections rise above their demands and stand against repression and that the mobilisation should be on the basis of politics of seizure of political power.

True to his analysis, the struggles launched by different segments of society

-- students, peasants or workers in Andhra Pradesh -- never complimented each other and each segment satisfied itself once some economic demands were met. The aim of preparing the people for seizure of political power has been relegated to a back position.

The intensified activities by the PW cadres in newer areas like Guntur, Prakasam, Kurnool, Anantapur or on Andhra-Orissa border districts appear to be lacking the political agenda, while concentrating on economic issues. As a result the armed struggle by the PW cadres has been confined to attacking the police, politicians, so-called informants and public properties or looting banks in the name of fighting the repression.

An observation of Manik, who resigned from the West Bengal State Committee member of the PW, is reflective of the situation in Andhra Pradesh. "Mass movements are being confined to economic consciousness and the armed struggle based on it is being reduced to isolated actions of the squads formed by assimilating some militants. This is not people's war in true sense.''

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